Thursday, November 29, 2012

When your body won't...

My trainer sent me a text saying "Are we training 2nite?" And it started a whole inner conversation with me.  "Oh, for the love of Pete, I've not slept and my brain is running in a 1000 different directions, and I feel like I'm about to pass out in the floor, and I feel like I have concrete blocks on my feet." But then the part of me who doesn't want to be the pudgy parson forever piped up and said "Choose better. Choose to fight.  Give it what you have to give.  Don't let yourself be derailed."

So I answered his text with "yeah.  I'll give it what I have to give, but I'm zapped." I wanted to warn him, in case I didn't have much to give.  I didn't want him to think I was just slacking. I was hoping that my body would wake up and ramp up.  It didn't. And it wasn't a matter of my body saying "I can't" because I have done these things before.  It was a tempter tantrum.  My body shouted something worse than "I can't."  It stomped its feet and said, "I won't do it.  I won't. I won't I won't."  Even though we'd done pretty much the same workout last week, everything felt new.  My brain couldn't remember one thing to the next-- even though the trainer had just shown me. My heartrate kept skyrocketing, even though he had me doing things at a lower intensity.  And body parts were really hurting.  Not in a "wow you're getting a good workout" sort of way, but in an "if you don't stop it right now, you're going to injure yourself."  My ever-watching trainer picked up on the small things I was doing, and quickly had me stop.  Some part of me wanted to squint my eyes at him and muster an inner ferocity and say "Don't you dare stop me. I need to do this." But there was no ferocity to muster, and instead of fighting back, I think I was grateful.  I wonder what I would've done had he not been there.  I know my stress level is high, and I was hoping for the sort of physical exhaustion that would leave me spent.  Had he not be there to watch my body (even picking up on things I wasn't saying), I wonder if I would've kept on pushing.

It was a crappy workout.  And instead of feeling the rush of endorphins when we finished, I felt deflated and defeated. I didn't feel like I had achieved anything. I'm still grouchy about it-- and am itching to head out the door and run, to show my body that it is not the boss-- that it answers to my heart and soul. But clearly my body is saying something.  It's trying to tell me that it's not getting something.  Part of the wisdom I expect I will receive from my trainer is learning how to listen to my body.  That's important.  Because while I want a nice, strong body-- I also want wholeness and shalom and balance.  I want to work with my body.  I don't ever want to be so shortsighted that I'm stupid.

I think I fell asleep at 7:30 last night-- while I was icing my knee, no less.  (Sorry, Trainer J...I'm icing it this morning.  Twice.)  I didn't drag myself out of bed until well after 7 this morning.  Maybe that's what I needed. And maybe having answered the need, my body and I can come to an agreement:  that "won't" is a dumb word and is not to be used very often.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just Say No!

I guess that's what they told us in elementary school when we had manitory anti-drug programs. We were told to expect peer pressure.  Fortunately for me, the people I ran around with weren't the sort of people that were interested in pressuring me to do drugs.  So I never needed the "Just Say No!" tactic.

But no one was able to tell me that I'd need that tactic in other areas of my life.  First it was a meeting, where folks were passing around fudge and pretzels and gingersnaps and all sorts of things. They offered and I politely refused.  But then it was, "Are you sure?" Of course, the question wasn't really if I was sure, it was "What's that about? It's just a few snacks-- what's wrong with that?" Then I came home and found that my husband had made dinner...and dessert.  Granted it was sugar free pudding, and he'd been all cute and put it in wine glasses and tried to make it special.  And he was really sad, and at least a little offended, that I wouldn't eat it. (At least I didn't say what I was thinking-- that my body more closely resembled pudding--soft and jiggly-- than I wanted it to.)

I guess I never bothered to consider how much of food consumption in general and specifically my food consumption was based around social needs.  Being a people pleaser who hates disappointing people in any way, I wonder how many times I've even food that I didn't really want or need just because it's what people were doing-- or because I didn't want to let them down.

I have made two observations: 1) Me saying no to food has lead to lots of opportunities for conversation about what I'm doing.  Come January, I'm going to be inviting my congregation into this journey with me, and these conversations are building a foundation for that.  As much as I would sometimes like to blend in, people are watching what I'm doing.  2) When my body is getting what it needs, I feel very little need to eat junk-- other than the aforementioned guilt of not falling into the "but everyone is doing it" trap.  Maybe that's been part of my struggle-- for years, I've not been giving my body what it needs.  I've given it plenty of what my brain said it wanted my body to have (uh hence my identity as the Pudgy Parson) but I have to admit to myself that I haven't been really listening to my body's needs.

One of the tactics they taught us in elementary school was to come up with a list of reasons why we couldn't or wouldn't do drugs.  Like having a list ready would make the "just say no" part easier.  So here is my list. (And if these don't work, I'm not sure I'm above putting a sign on my office door that says "Please don't feed the pastor.")
 10) Yes, round is a shape-- just not the one I want to be in.
 9) My health matters.  No really.
 8) I don't have extra time to work off all the calories in that dish.
7) You're killing me.  Seriously.
 6.) Bathing Suit Season.  Or boot season.  Either way.
5) I'm not a quitter.
4.) I'm too smart to set myself up to fail.
3). I value the time and relationships more than I've ever valued the food.
2) I want to be a runner-- and I can't do it with all this extra weight.

Ok, so maybe I wouldn't actually say any of those to any one but myself.  Or maybe I would.  But that's fine, because I would say the number one thing on my list-- the thing that matters most.

  1) I don't want to be the pudgy parson forever.

And that makes the NO! part that much easier.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It takes three weeks...

Fitness magazines say that "on average, it takes three weeks for a person to notice a difference in her body after starting a workout plan."  It takes six weeks for family and friends to notice.  And it takes ten to twelve weeks for the rest of the world to notice.  I guess that's a way of reminding well intentioned but anxious people that results don't come immediately.

I've been striving (not entirely successfully, but that's a post for another day) to eat according to my trainer's guidelines for two weeks, and have been working out with him for only a week, but my clothes are definitely looser.  Two weeks ago, the pants I had on today were a little snug.  Today, there was plenty of wiggle room.  I happened to be wearing the same Tshirt this time last week as I have on now, and there is a definite difference in how it fits.   Since my trainer has banned me from checking the scale for a month (uh...Merry Christmas to me? All I want for Christmas is to weigh myself?),  I won't know how many pounds I'm losing. But I can see the small changes that are beginning to take place--slightly looser clothes being only one of them.  Because I am also sleeping better.  I am coping better with stress.  I'm not craving sugar any more.  I am giving thought to my meals and making arrangements for them. I'm getting braver and more willing to try new things. I feel more in control of my life and my body.  These things are progress-- and right now they matter more to me than a number on the scale anyway.

I've been asked how committed I am to all of this-- this exercising and very specific meal plan and the whole works. And I don't know how to answer.  Because I'm on fire right now.  But I also know that I've quit before which makes me doubt myself.  I've gotten busy.  I've not seen results as quickly as I wanted.  I've pledged 100% commitment to my trainer for three months.  And I guess both he and I are wondering what will happen after that three months.  Am I strong enough to make this a lifestyle change? I told him that I was 90% certain that I was and that's the most honest answer I know how to give.  I know that there is something different this time.  I know that I am in a better place mentally and otherwise to really do this.  I know that I will have more support and accountability than I ever have before.  I know that I'm really over my body telling me what my limits are.  I know that I'm too young to feel as old as I sometimes do.

But maybe the thing is that I'm also now really aware of the hardest thing.  When I'm finally the pudgeless parson, I don't think I'm going to look back and think that losing the weight was the hardest thing I've ever done.  I think I'm going to look back and realize that the hardest thing I've ever done was live in a tired body that neither looked good nor felt good. I don't think I'm going to think that pushing myself was some monstrous beast to slay-- I think I'm going to remember the allowing myself to settle was the monstrous beast.

So am I in, really in? I believe so.  Because if I'm not, then I'll never know what it was like to completely exceed my own expectations and push past my previous failures.  And that is a result that I won't see in three weeks.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Slow and Steady wins the race...?

If I had written this yesterday, I think I might've called this post "Yeah, trainer is nuts." (And I could say that to him, because he's also a friend... but I would've gotten that look.) Last week, on my "low" intensity day, he asked me to walk the distance up this huge hill (read: mountain) and let him know how long it took.  I'd walked it before, and it was definitely a challenge-- since my body got awfully used to being a flatlander. So I sent him a text telling him that it took me six minutes to go the requested distance.  I was not prepared for his response.  "K.  Now do it another five times." I remember staring at my phone incredulously, like "He's kidding, right? I'm gonna die!" Only he wasn't kidding.  Being both fierce and dedicated, I walked up the mountain six times.  (We did however compromise, and he let me jog down the hill each time.)  I was about to lose my religion, but I thought to myself "Wow--by next boot season, I might actually be able to find a pair of boots that fit my calves."

Yesterday was another "low" intensity day. I was prepared for him this time, and had already steeled myself to hike up the mountain another six times.  Oh, if only...

Because he's all about keeping the body from adapting too much. So here was his decree:  Walk up the "hill" and jog down.  Walk backwards up the "hill". (yes, I'm that crazy lady you see walking backwards, like "Oh, don't mind me, this is a perfectly normal thing to be doing." Remind me to remind the trainer that this is a small town, and that I actually know some of the people who are giving me weird looks as they pass by.) Jog down.  Right over left up the hill, and jog down. "Oh, and don't let your  heels touch the ground."  Left over right up the hill and jog down.  And he wasn't kidding.

I just had to keep thinking about the fabulous boots that I was gonna wear soon. This pudgy parson's calves were on fire.  And not only that, but the whole process was so slow.  Painfully slow. I rocked out to some Tom Petty and the Boss and some terrible music on my running list that I'm embarrassed to admit I love.  And I went as slow as it took to both do it well, and to keep my heart rate as slow as he wanted. I didn't realize yesterday, but sometimes slow is a gift.  Lately, I feel like I'm always in a flurry of activity, and never have enough time.  But when you're forced to slow down, there's room to think idle thoughts.  There's time to put yourself back together when the world has been too much in your face. Maybe in this frenzied time of year, I need to be made to go slowly and deliberately sometimes.

I was surprised at all the muscles that felt like they were getting a workout yesterday: my calves and quads were a given, but I didn't expect my low back and my side obliques and whatever muscle is under my saddlebags to feel it so much.  That's a pretty good return on my investment.  If it takes going slowly to work those rarely used muscles, then maybe I can embrace the slow... at least for a few minutes.

Turns out, my trainer is not, in fact, nuts. Maybe next time it's a do-funny-moves-up-the-mountain day, I'll wear a ski mask.  He might not be nuts, but folks will think I am.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Safety Net

Despite my initial reluctance, I think I'm really going to like working out with a trainer.  I'm one of those people who believed that you couldn't get much of a workout at home, but wow, was I wrong.  I'm also one of those people who didn't really think the 5 lb dumbbells I had would do a whole lot of good.  Wrong again.

My trainer is all about the idea that people can get in shape with a minimum amount of equipment--and I'm starting to believe him. (And had I known earlier, maybe I would've began working harder sooner.) I wonder how many times I've chosen to do nothing, because I didn't have time to go to the gym. Blrrgh.

One of the things I think I love about working with a trainer is the fact that I will let him push me harder than I would push myself.  And not just in a "Go! Faster! Harder! Higher!" sort of way. But in a way that I will trust myself into his hands.  I have full confidence in him and his knowledge, and I know he is paying more attention to what my body is saying than I know how to do yet.  It kind of sets me free to go really hard without worrying that I'm going to injure myself or go harder than I can go.  I guess it's like how trapeze artists feel knowing that they are working with a safety net under them-- like they are free to fly and flip and soar without having to worry.

Did I particularly enjoy working out with my heart rate hovering in the 190's? No.  But I loved the feeling of being able to push and challenge myself without having to worry about my body.  When I couldn't quite do something (ummm... hello ab exercises) he was quick to adapt the plan to what I could do.  When I worked myself to the point of muscle exhaustion, he was keeping a careful eye on me, making sure that my body could handle it. If I were working out on my own, I wouldn't have gone nearly as hard.  I would have treated my body more gingerly than I should.  I would've cheated myself out of the feeling of giving it everything I had.  What a freedom to not have to play it safe, because you know someone has your back.

During this taxing season when I seem to be really bad at taking care of myself, I'm glad to have the freedom to go harder than I would on my own. I need the outlet.  Exercising at such a high intensity has a marvelous way of clearing my mind.  (Uh-- but next time I've got to finish the sermon before I train with him-- my brain, and my shaky arms, were both pretty much done last night-- and the sermon wasn't. It was an early morning for this pudgy parson.) And wowee, am I sleeping soundly! Like almost hibernating soundly.

So maybe this is what I've been needing during the High and Holy (i.e. manic and frenzied) seasons of the church: a person to push me, a person to stay on me about taking care of myself, a person to act as my safety net until I learn to fly.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Survivor: Day 1

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." Christopher Robin to Pooh

So... I survived day 1 with a trainer, and was pleasantly surprised. Gasp-- I actually enjoyed the time.  (Uh. Minus looking like a beet, having my body parts jiggle all over the place, and breathing like... well, I don't know what to compare it to, but it wasn't pretty.)  I enjoyed the challenge and I could definitely feel exactly which muscles are never getting used. (Apparently people are supposed to work their abs.  Huh.) I won't lie-- I was surprised by how quickly the time went.  It was high intensity (umm...yeah) but there was enough variety that my mind didn't have a chance to wander-- or do anything except making sure my lungs were getting enough air so that I didn't fall over in the floor.  I love that he gave me a flashback to my Tae Kwon Do days and had me doing cresent kicks and the like.  Granted, last night's kicks weren't pretty, but my body seemed to remember how to do them.  I'm excited to watch as some of that begins to come back to me. 

The deal I made with the trainer is that he would train me so that I could be a runner. (Even if it involved me making a deal where I wouldn't run for several weeks, so I could build up my muscles.  Apparently he didn't think it normal that I was spending hours with frozen peas on my shins so I could walk the next day.) I think that even with several weeks of little to no running, I'm going to be way ahead of where I was if I was just slogging away at getting in miles.  I can tell that my legs and back will be much stronger, and that my endurance will increase rapidly. 

Everyone on facebook is listing something they are thankful for each day in November. I haven't been doing that (at least not on facebook.) But today, the trainer (also my friend) gets my gratitude.  For calling me on my stuff, for caring enough to tangle with me and not giving me the time to give him much lip, for challenging me to set a standard of strength for myself.  But most of all, for shattering my long held belief that being in any shape other than round was an impossibility. 

I'm in kind of a fierce mood today. Like "Move, world.  I've got things to do and I don't have time for you to stand in my way." And maybe that's the start of something...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Awake Again

Good Morning, World-- It's me, The Pudgy Parson-- who has apparently been hibernating like a bear for the last several months. I've been busy.  You know, with getting set up at a new church and making my house a home and turning twenty five (again).  But I've also been playing games with myself, telling myself that once life settled down, I'd start up again.  Pushing myself to be a runner, even if my muscles were hurting so badly that I cried when I had to walk.

But I'm awake again, really awake.  And I've made a new commitment. I'm starting work with a trainer tonight--which I'll admit makes this pudgy parson more than a little nervous.  I'm one of those people who likes to pretend (at least for myself) that I've got it all together.  I know that when I begin work tonight, I'm going to have to admit to myself (and at least one other person) that I've let myself take the easy route, that I've gotten kinda lazy, that the foods I eat matter, and that I'm not any longer the athletic person that I am in my brain. I'm nervous because this trainer is also a friend of mine but at the same time, I guess I'm excited.  So, I guess this pudgy parson is going to let down her guard and let a friend help me do one of the things I've never been able to do on my own.  (But I'm not above praying that I don't jiggle too much in the process.)

So I'm being brave and taking a step-- and I'm going to recommit myself to documenting the journey in writing. I love the church where I serve, and I'm soon going to be inviting my congregation into this journey, not only to support me, but to partner with me so that we can all make some changes together. I keep reminding myself that part of my job as a pastor is not only to care for myself, but to raise the bar on how we are as a community.

I found one of my old Tae Kwon Do shirts this morning, and was reminded of what used to be my favorite quote.
It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. (Teddy Roosevelt)
I've been the critic. Today I choose to get in the arena.  Today, I remind myself that I am worth fighting for.